Two high profile environmental events hosted by Namibia in 2013, the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) and the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) raked in close to N$200 000 for Namibia’s economy last year.
During his Budget speech this week, Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) Uahekua Herunga told his colleagues in parliament that the Ministry estimates that “around 140 million Namibian dollars was generated by this event for the national economy” – referring to the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, which was held in September 2013.
In addition, the conference generated over 1 150 temporary jobs and employed the services of 35 Namibian companies. More than 4 000 visitors attended the COP 11 event last year in Namibia.
According to Herunga, the COP 11 was “hailed internationally as an outstanding logistical and technical success” and as the newly minted president of the UNCCD Conference of Parties until 2015, “Namibia is now at the forefront of the global agenda on issues of desertification and drought through the implementation of the 41 decisions adopted during the conference”.
In another win for Namibia’s international standing, as the host of the 10th ATWS in October 2013, as the first African country, Namibia hosted 1 500 international visitors and generated around 56 million Namibian dollars for the national economy.
Moreover, Herunga reminded parliament that apart from the direct monetary influx, the summit generated “a range of other benefits that are incalculable, especially the exposure, promotion and marketing of Namibia as a tourist destination of choice”.
As a direct result of the exposure generated during the summit, the New York Times selected Namibia as the 6th “Must Visit” destination in the world; Wanderlust magazine in the UK selected Namibia as the number one country to visit and Afar magazine listed a walking tour in Namibia as the ‘best in the world’.
Some expenditure highlighted by the Minister
Herunga said that more than 42% of Namibia’s landmass is now under conservation management in the form of protected areas, private game parks and reserves, tourism concessions, conservancies and community forests.
He said that “national parks continue to be the bedrock of our tourism industry, and the Ministry continues to maintain and manage them for the conservation of our wildlife resources”.
In this regard, the Ministry recognises that wildlife crime prevention “is key to conservation” and as a result, the Ministry has put in place measures to curb wildlife crimes through intensified anti-poaching efforts. He added that challenges related to human-wildlife conflict continue to exist and as such, the Ministry “has committed itself to implement mitigation measures in order to reduce such conflicts”.
A major conservation initiative, the Community Based Natural Resources Management Programme (CBNRM) “continues to attract worldwide recognition for its innovative approaches to linking conservation to poverty alleviation”.
To date Namibia has 79 registered conservancies benefitting more than 250 000 rural people.